London Life Markets

jane and fern verrow

March 10, 2012

Well, since my tea ceremony post went down so well and many of you enjoyed discussing ‘slow living’, i am going to continue and talk about how i first became interested in nutrition and the impact it’s had on my health and well being. Almost 20 years ago. i was going through a very difficult time in my life. I had no idea about real nutrition and called myself a gourmet thanks to the many opportunities of eating out in the most sought after restaurants across europe. You see, leading a jet-setting lifestyle didn’t really lend itself to forays of home cooking. Deep down i did know that in order to get better i had to completely change my way of life, so i threw myself into learning about nutrition and teaching myself how to cook. On the way i dabbled in many different food movements, but what became very apparent was that i started associating food with health and how it made me feel. This opened a whole new world to me and i fell in love with what i now call real food.

In comes jamie oliver who’s first tv show aired around 1997, where he introduced borough market to the nation. My prayers were answered. I could now go to this fantastic new food market and buy ‘real’ food produced by local(ish) farmers. This marked the end of me having to shop in a supermarket ever again. Yay! In those first days, jamie would often be at the market and i would quietly stand next to him while he was doing his shopping and simply listen and observe. I am a huge fan and think he’s done wonders for how food is perceived. I urge everyone to watch his totally inspirational ted talk, if you haven’t done so already.

I learned about health properties in food, how it can be ethically and sustainably grown and foremost about true taste. I became fascinated with organic food and how different it tasted and, surprisingly, how good it made me feel. Everyone used to laugh at me, mocking my beliefs and accusing me of squandering money. I persevered because i truly believed in what i had discovered. Food shopping took on a whole new level and doing it on a saturday morning became a fixture in the diary.

A couple of years later a new stall appeared at the market. I remember asking a stall holder who they were. “Oh, he said. That’s jane scotter. She runs a biodynamic farm in herefordshire and her food is just of the highest and purest quality. You’ll not be able to eat anything else once you’ve tasted it.” Now that’s a bold statement and sure enough i had to check it out for myself. Instantly smitten, i have been an active fan ever since. This was back in 2000 and a lot has changed since then. A selected few food sellers broke away from borough market a couple of years ago and set up shop in bermondsey. We, a dedicated group of foodies, will drag ourselves out of bed at an early hour on a saturday morning and congregate over at jane’s as not to miss out on any of the produce. Eating according to the seasons has taken on a whole new meaning. The days i’ve been getting there late and missing out on the incredible spinach or broccoli were so disappointing that i make sure not to be late too often. One of the small group of early shoppers is the delectable nigel slater. He recently wrote a lovely piece on maltby street market.

Well, i’ve just returned from my food shopping spree and took some photos for you. Jane tells me that in a few weeks the market is moving down the road. If you ever find yourself in london on a saturday morning and want to treat yourself, go and take a visit. I promise you won’t be sorry. It always sets me up for the entire week ahead, both in terms of food and spirit. Thank you jane for your continued passion and hard work. You feed us with the most incredible produce and i’m forever greatful. Jane knows that i believe there is a direct link in me avoiding illness and eating her food. Well, the proof is in the pudding or something like that.

Over the next few months i will introduce you to more markets and shops i buy food from so stay tuned!

What are your food shopping habits? I’d love to know! Go on, share, even if you are a junk food addict!

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  • Reply Holly March 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Wonderful post Tina!

    A few years ago I felt quite unhealthy. Like my eating habits were bad, like there was no purpose behind it, no strategy, no reason. So I started looking for a lifestyle diet – you know, not one that yo do for a few weeks to lose inches, but instead one that promotes a healthy way of life and that you adopt as regular practice. After some research, I found Michel Montignac and bought a few of his cookbooks. I felt like I agreed with almost everything he wrote about. Basically, sugar is the enemy. In all its forms. So you can imagine that there wasn’t much left for me to buy at the supermarket since everything has sugar in it. Which leaves you the only option to eat fresh.

    After a few days of following his recipes, my sugar withdrawal headache came to an end and my shopping habits were taking a new form. The down side was the recipe preparation. As you know, I’m not a huge fan of cooking 😉 But still today, I apply his diet principles and stick to few recipes that are low maintenance while varying a few ingredients. Also, he’s really not afraid of fat. I decided to tone it down from what he suggests and focus on getting fat from good sources (but I have a love affair with cheese, that fattier the better, you know, and Michel doesn’t seem to mind, lol! But somehow I know to be careful of that.)

    Of course, I stray off course. Lately, I can’t resist the urge for chips and chocolate and cookies and everything bad. Hence the interest in detox, as we talked about the other day.

    I love the Ted talk, although I wish Jamie would stop pacing all over the stage. It was driving me crazy, lol! But he’s so right. Food education and food experts in the right positions would make such a big impact.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. Your habits are inspiring. I have to work on a more exciting relationship with food. I think I eat quite well (most of the time) but there may be some passion lacking in my diet. Thing is, even though I know trying to change that can only be a good thing, I don’t feel an urgent need to do anything about it yet. Hmmm… maybe the right time will come at some point.

    Happy Sunday 🙂


    • Reply tina March 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      @Holly Ah, Michel Montignac. I know his books well. In the late 80’s I had a boyfriend who swore by him and he used to make me read them:) His principles are good and it’s a good way to eat. We have a Montignac cafe/restaurant here in London.

      Sugar is the enemy. Most people don’t realise that. Not cooking will always make it harder to have a healthy lifestyle because one is reliant on eating out, or preparing foods for oneself that might not necessarily be satisfying. It’s good to have some diet/nutrition principles. For me, I don’t seem to digest starch that well so I keep to a food combining principle and seems to work well. Of course, it’s not written in stone but am a huge fan of the paleolithic/stone age diet principle

      The thing about cravings and urge for chocolate and chips are all so real for most of us (me definitely too) and it’s hard to come off once you are on the merry-go-round. I try and sit it out for a bit and then gently trick myself by introducing good foods and playing a game with myself. It’s true. I then go and plan something nice and mostly kick it by upping my gym/excercise. Also accountability is really important to me so I will make an arrangement to play tennis or see my trainer and that greatly helps as I can then talk about it. It’s a weird one and I would love to meet a woman who never goes through these mini phases. Btw, often it is because you eat something that triggers your body to want sugar, wheat, yeast etc.

      It’s a life long learning curve so you are doing really well xx

      @Heather Yes, I agree. There is lots of complaining about Wholefoods in Kensington. Of course, It’s huge, brash, american and OTT but you can get everything there and they have some inspiring products. I applaud any health food shop, chains etc because they enable people like you and me to fulfill our needs for feeding ourselves with the best food possible. They are still in such minority. I’m also amazed how people don’t care what goes into their body, yet they care about their cars, clothes, holidays etc. Go figure!

      I’ve not been to the Orange Square (Belgravia) market but am a great supported of all the farmers markets. I actually do rotate a bit because it keeps me interested and sometimes I get to be introduced to a new product. I also like supporting them all so think it’s fair that I spread my spending:) Thanks for your lovely comment x We had a great meet up yesterday. Look forward to seeing you on 28th April. Have venue in mind and will discuss with you:)

      @Sophie Oh, I know, but I try and tread carefully when discussing these subjects:)

      I think eating organic and well all the time is really hard in the kind of modern world we live. It takes a huge amount of energy and organisation and holding down a job makes it so much harder.
      How wonderful that you can have Riverford Organics sent to your office. That makes such a difference. In fact, the day i interviewed Max Fraser, his delivery from Riverford Organics arrived. Hence why i included a picture of food. He’s a big foodie and a great cook.

      Dairy, a difficult subject. Very controversial. When I visited my first nutritionist in 1992, she took me off dairy, sugar and wheat. That’s always stuck with me. I always say to people, if you’re going to have dairy, at least make it organic. It will make a huge difference. My own personal view is that adults do not do well on cow’s milk and so if ever I crave cheese (very rarely) I opt for organic goats or sheep.

      Ah, yes, chocolate. Well many years ago I did a little test for myself. I went out and bought normal chocolate from a newsagent. I kid you not, I was addicted for the next 2 weeks. I have no idea what the likes of Cadbury, Nestle and others put in it but it is highly processed and addictive. I liken it to smoking nicotine. I then bought some 70% Black and Green chocolate and found I only had to eat a little and there was no addiction afterwards. Luckily for me I don’t crave sweet foods any longer but will always opt for dark (darker the better), organic chocolate. I will admit I have become a chocolate snob:) I spend hours talking to the chocolate buyers of Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges and seek out the best and purest dark chocolate I can find. Of course, we are spoilt for choice in London:)

      I don’t drink alcohol and never really have done so can’t comment much:)

      I can tell you this from first hand experience, it’s all in the preparation. When I don’t shop for food on weekends, my week tends to be less productive and I eat on the run which saps me of energy. Also on the weekend I have time to linger and really enjoy the experience of food shopping (in my case, that’s a big part), cooking and preparing stuff for the week ahead. It is, however, a constant commitment and since I’ve started blogging, this has been more of a struggle. I think I’m over the worst now and back on track:) Thank you for sharing so openly and for your lovely comment x

  • Reply Heather @ Canal Notes March 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Great post, Tina! A subject close to my heart as well. What we eat is food for our body, so shouldn’t we give it the best possible fuel we can? I love the little farmer’s market in Orange Square (Belgravia) on Saturday mornings. And though there are many complaints about them, I do really enjoy shopping at Whole Foods 🙂 It’s great to know you can go in and find everything you need for a certain recipe. Btw, loved your photos in this post!

  • Reply Sophie March 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Tina,
    I hope this works this time – I left a really long comment last night but I fear something went wrong in me posting it :S
    I must say that I expected your post to be somewhat more controversial from the way you built it up yesterday! I have found it really interesting reading and hearing about your journey into healthy eating, however and I love that you buy your produce from the same place as Nigel Slater!
    I try to eat organic as often as possible, but must confess I don’t do it exclusively. I can certainly feel the difference when I do tho. We’re fortunate that at work we can have Riverford Organic veg boxes delivered to our door, because I’m not sure when I’d get the chance to get out to an organic market from central Oxford.
    I’m still working out the way food affects me and I’m trying to cut out dairy, which is a great shame for my tastebuds which are only just appreciating cheese (i wouldn’t touch it till my twenties).
    My guilty pleasures are definitely chocolate and wine, which my body could probably do without!
    I totally agree that we should know what we’re putting in our bodies – the crazy amounts of ingredients listed on the pack of processed foods is quite scary!
    I definitely like your idea about buying all your healthy food on the weekend and setting yourself up for the week, I tend to do too much eating on the go and just grabbing what’s convenient.
    Thanks for sharing Tina, I look forward to reading more on your slow living lifestyle!

  • Reply Nicola March 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Hi Tina

    This is such a lovely post & the photographs are wonderful! The food is so well displayed I feel hungry looking at it!
    Wholefoods are opening a big new shop in Richmond-upon Thames so they’re venturing South and in another affluent area. I know they’re criticised but I’m looking forward to its opening. Richmond also has 2 specialist chocolate shops, the one being my favourite is the small-but-perfectly-formed William Curley. Once you have tasted his chocolate nothing else will do & you’ll never look at a Cadbury’s again. He has a larger shop in Pimlico and his chocolate is found in Teasmith in Spitalfields, a place I know you like too, Tina.
    Sophie – I didn’t eat cheese until I was in my twenties too – you’re the only other person I’ve heard of say that! People think it’s a bit odd that I’m not wild on the stuff!
    I love Nigel Slater, not only his recipes but his passionate prose too. He had a half-hour recipe book out long before Jamie. Jamie’s half-hour recipes have always taken me an hour!

    Look forward to reading more of your prose too Tina, xx

    • Reply tina March 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Jane has this really natural way of presenting her food. That was the first thing that attracted me to her stand all those years ago.

      Oh, didn’t know that Wholefoods are opening in Richmond. Makes complete sense as they can capture the affluent areas further south. Wholefoods bought Fresh & Wild and their first ever shop was in Camden. I used to live in Camden then ( think it was 1998/1999 ) and I was so excited to have them. Until then I used to go to Planet Organic in Westbourne Grove who were the first organic supermarket(ish). The Camden branch is still my local.

      I LOVE William Curley. His chocolate is amazing. Other favs are Pierre Marcolini, Paul A Young and L’Artisan du chocolat. For more affordable I like Montezuma. Of course, for us, Cadbury won’t do.

      Nigel Slater’s prose can make me shed a tear, it’s that beautiful. He is such a nice man and so very inspiring. I love all his books but Tender 1&2 are incredible! Oh, leave Jamie alone:) he’s done so much for the way we all experience food. Bless him!

      Hope your Birthday weekend was a hoot! Glad we could be a tiny part of it. Thanks for the cakes. We should have got them for you!!

  • Reply Lauren March 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Lovely post, Tina and lovely photos too. We just spent a wonderful vacation full of decadent meals in wonderful restaurants. Some were sustainable and organic and some were decidedly not. A-hem. It was great, but it was vacation. It felt so good to get home and make a thoughtful grocery list and get back into feeding my family. We do…okay. Not as well as I’d like. I’d like to get to the farmer’s market more (although our regular grocery is making a conscious effort at increasing its local and organic options, and doing a pretty good job). I am ashamed to say I haven’t yet added a Jamie Oliver cookbook to my shelf, although I’ve long been intrigued. What should I start with?

    • Reply tina March 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks Lauren and nice to have you back:)

      On vacation it’s great to indulge. Can’t wait to read all about it and see some amazing photos.
      After a holiday I’m always so pleased to come home and do my food shopping and cooking. Nothing beats it. I think if customers keep nagging their local shops, they’re bound to improve.

      There are so many JO books, I really like the very first ones… but really, all of them are great to have in your library. Have a look at Nigel Slater. I think his writing will really appeal to you.

  • Reply Erin March 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    First off, I think Jamie Oliver is adorable, lisp and all. Moving on! Thankfully America has really caught on to the whole organic movement and it is easy to find organic, locally grown and sustainably sourced food at almost any grocery store if not at any of the number of specialty, organic-only grocery stores. I can list 4 off the top of my head within a 20 minute walk from my house, not to mention a good number of farmer’s markets when the weather is nice. But this wasn’t always the case, obviously. Within the last 10 years the movement to eat better and know where and how your food was produced really took off. Have you ever watched the documentary Food, Inc.? I’d recommend that, even though it sounds like you already eat well and are conscious of what you put into your body. It’s an eye-opening and sad documentary to say the least.

    These days I try to eat well and pay attention to where everything comes from. I dated a strict vegan (no meat/dairy, only organic, no soy, no oil) for almost 6 years before my current relationship, and his hyper-awareness to every single thing he ate really made me reevaluate my own eating habits. I do think there is a thing as taking it too far, though. I let myself indulge in junk food, too. Haha. Everything in moderation, including moderation. 🙂

    • Reply tina March 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Darling, I totally agree. I love Jamie Olive. He is amazing!

      Of course I’ve seen Food Inc. which is fantastic. Have you seen ‘Supersize Me’?

      Wow, your awareness at your age is totally inspiring. You actually dated this guy for 6 years? Isn’t it incredible how relationships and friendships, whether still current or not, can teach us stuff. Whatever happened, now you’ll always have this food awareness and can make up your own rules:)

      Junk food is fun sometimes. I know about your latest junk orgy, right?

      I’m really happy that the US is catching up, what with obeseity etc. it is vital.
      You know Belgium is one of the most incredible countries for eating. I love eating there. With that and Paris you will be totally spoilt with culinary delights when on your trip. Not long now. x

  • Reply annie March 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Ah Tina, you’ve just highlight 120 of the reasons why I’m still sulking that Richard made me move from my beloved Southwark. I would move back there like a shot tomorrow if I could. I lived two streets away from Malty and it is brilliant. A little secret place that has 1/1000th of the people that go to Borough. I love Borough Market in the evening, it’s one of my favourite places to have a drink in the summer. There’s a really good english wine shop there too now (not that you’ll be interested in that though). I find it too busy and stressful to shop in though on a regular basis. Far too many tourist getting in the way and not buying anything.

    Sorry but I can’t bear Jamie Oliver! I got rid of his books becuase I can’t stand the way he writes and the fact that he seems to have to have a photo of himself on every single page. And I’ve been really disappointed in all of the restaurants I’ve been in of his, except for Jamie’s Italian in Bath which was great. I just find him intensely irritating.
    But I LOVE Nigel Slater, almost all of our midweek recipes come from his 30 minutes suppers book which is by far the most used recipe book I’ve ever had. It’s brilliant. And I much prefer his writing and he uses words delicious words like unctious. Try it Lauren, you’ll love it and he’s brilliant on side dishes and veg too. He’s much more gentle and quiet than J.O.
    When I was in San Francisco last year I was amazed at all the Whole Foods. They’re everywhere and they’re huge and all nice and serence like Waitrose. A really nice shopping experience. I loved them. The Camden one isn’t a patch on them unfortunately. I think they’re great because they’re not as niche as healthy food shops over here.

    • Reply tina March 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      I know how much you loved living in Southwark and the main reason was food shopping and restaurants.
      Borough Market can only be done early in the morning. I tend to go shopping around 9am to avoid everyone. That sort of thing takes real commitment because often on a Saturday I would love to lay in but then think about how sorry I will be later.
      As I don’t shop in supermarkets, this is hugely important for me.

      Oh, poor Jamie. You know when Jamie first appeared on our screens I realised that I am normal after all when it comes to cooking. Prior to this we had Delia Smith with the 100g of this and an ounce of that. I was always throwing things together, using my eye or gut in terms of measurements so was hugely relieved when Jamie came along and did the same. I suppose I don’t look at JO as the brand and all the restaurants, cooking equipments etc but love how he has challenged the UK and then worldwide to get people cooking, being more aware of their food and tackling school diners etc. I look at the bigger picture rather than the individual bits he does.

      I love Nigel Slater too and was really happy to see him doing a TV cooking show. They are both very different personalities and both hugely important in their own rights. I am so proud of living in the UK where the whole food culture has changed drastically since moving here in 1980.

      Wholefoods Kensington is much more like the US versions.

  • Reply Toni March 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    What a great piece Tina! I like to think that a I’m a foodie too, but I must confess that it doesn’t involve getting up eary in the morning to go to the market. We have a local farmers market but do go to Planet Organic for most of my shopping. However, as you mention a few markets new to me I might start exploring!

    • Reply tina March 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      Thanks Toni:) You are a foodie, a danish foodie. Your local Planet Organic is quite a good one.

      I will take you to some markets when the weather gets better x

  • Reply Igor March 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Beautiful market pics, Tina!!! I wish I had more time to dedicate to food, markets and cooking. Alas!

    • Reply tina March 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Hey Igor. Thanks. It’s always much harder when you’re holding down a full-time job. Time will come. Patience!

  • Reply Theresa March 13, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Hi Tina,
    Another really great, thought provoking post. I’m jotting down little notes regarding all the great book recommendations, even though I just hit ‘buy’ on my Amazon cart earlier today. 🙁
    Have you read Fast Food Nation? That was another eye opening book about how our food is produced, especially in the fast food industry (which I don’t eat). My son’s grandparents like to take him to McDonald’s when they take him out, which I can’t stand. I told my son that the next time Grammy and Papa take you to McDonald’s tell them that that food will kill you. (I know, I’m evil and a bit too dramatic. But still…)
    Anyway, I digress. Another wonderful chef that opened my eyes to seasonal, local, and organic food is Alice Waters of Chez Panisse (in Berkeley, CA). Have you heard of her? She is also on a one-woman food revolution.
    Now, full disclosure: While I aim to eat healthy, I don’t always meet the goal of eating seasonal/local/organic. At least we are all aware and try our best. Off to check out Nigel Slater and JO (esp. his TED talk). Thanks, Tina!

    • Reply tina March 13, 2012 at 1:37 am

      I should be in bed and fast asleep, yet am wide awake. No good:)

      Oh, I’m so excited for you. Amazon delivery of nice new books. One of the wonderful pleasures in life!

      Yes, I read FFN. Funny you should say that about McDonald’s. Whenever my nephew or nieces go ( very rarely but also with granparents ), I always make it clear I don’t want to know.

      I’ve heard about Alice Waters. She is a member of the slow food movement like Michael Pollan who I heard speak in London a couple of years ago.

      I love that all you guys have so much awareness. It’s not about eating perfectly, it’s about making wise choices and giving kids the best start in life when it comes to nutrition. It’s also about taking responsibility for our bodies and health, relying less on doctors and medication and hopefully preventing serious illnesses.

      Thanks for the great comments and discussion.

  • Reply Sam Lennie (Interiorsam) March 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Tina,
    Enjoyed reading your post and I definitely agree that if you eat well you feel well. I don’t live in London but if I did I would definitely visit your little shop in Bermondsey as well as Borough market. I live quite near to the coast so we love to go buy our fresh fish straight off the boat. We also frequent The Food Company for regular treats I am very aware of what I eat as I have an intolerance to dairy and eggs. I eat these in moderation so I tend to apply that thought process to every food item. My biggest weakness is chocolate. Our other favourite store is our fairly local butcher. He supplies the meat for many top restaurants- Gordon Ramsey’s for example.

    I also believe that eating healthily and exercising go hand in hand. I run and do bootcamp 3-4 times a week and I find that exercise prevents me from eating the rubbish, not good for you food. If I ever want to scoff something I just go for a run and it sorts me out.

    The only downside to eating better, organic, carefully selected and locally grown produce is that often it costs more, it takes more effort to find and then respectfully prepare. I think that’s a good enough excuse for some of the population not to bother with a healthier diet, don’t you think?

    Useless fact…. my mother in law fancies Nigel Slater like crazy, she swoons whenever he appears on telly 🙂

    • Reply tina March 13, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks Sam. I think if you would live in london you would definitely like Borough, Maltby Street and others.

      I so envy you living near the coast and having fresh fish off the boats. That’s exactly how I buy my fish but obviously pay over the odds. I actually buy from people who dive themselves. I’m planning a whole post on fish so stay tuned.

      I have many intolerances and you are right, it makes you more aware in general. I say that’s a good thing:)

      You certainly have many great places to shop where you live and both your butcher and The Food Company sound amazing.

      Running and boot camp 3-4 x a week? Wow, you must be fit. I absolutely hate running but did some bootcamp with kettlebells 3x a week a couple of years ago. It was in the park at 7am so couldn’t sustain it forever. These days I do kick-boxing, gym, dance classes and tennis. I can assure you I have none of your discipline. When I want to scoff something I give into it:) it’s rare that excercise would take over at that moment. Good on you:)

      I often have the debate around costs of better/healthier food but then I argue that supermarkets are really quite expensive and if we count booze, cigarettes, lottery , cabs and going out then maybe it is about priorities.
      The whole health debate is a difficult one and also I think a lot of people are addicted to junk food because of the way food is processed today. It’s not black and white and rather a complicated matter.

      Once you eat organic, whole food your taste buds change and you naturally don’t enjoy processed food any longeer.

      Thank you for your lovely comment.

      Nigel Slater would turn bright red:)

  • Reply caroline March 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    What fabulous fresh food shots! Cocolate addiction started right here in this household-anything 70% cocoa is regularly put through the taste test-maybe a little choccie fest required at our nxt meet up location!! BTW don’t you just love Nigel’s kitchen in his last series-totally gorgeous! Cxx

    • Reply tina March 14, 2012 at 12:50 am

      Thanks Caroline. Sounds good to me. We can test different chocs. I like anything 70% upwards. I’ve even found 100% chocolate I like:) I’m up for it.

  • Reply ursula (room to bloom) March 21, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Oh man. I’m feeling lazy, fat and flabby now – and malnourished – in no particular order. Thanks Tina! ; )

    • Reply tina March 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      You are so funny… you are none of the above. Malnourished, maybe! Well, come food shopping with me!

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